“Buy local” campaigns in times of crisis

Michela Matarazzo, Adamantios Diamantopoulos, Andreas Raff

Purpose: Reactance theory is applied to investigate consumer responses to “buy local” campaigns initiated by government to counteract the effects of an economic crisis, using the COVID-19 pandemic as an illustrative context. Design/methodology/approach: A conceptual model is developed, aimed at revealing the extent to which “buy local” campaigns – explicitly justified by the need to fight an economic crisis – are likely to lead to (a) compliance (i.e. support for local products/retailers) or (b) freedom restoration (i.e. support for foreign products/retailers). The model is subsequently tested on samples of German (N = 265) and Italian (N = 268) consumers. Findings: “Buy local” campaigns are likely to generate reactance amongst consumers and such reactance can lead to both non-compliance and, albeit less so, freedom restoration outcomes. At the same time, consumer ethnocentrism acts as a countervailing influence by attenuating the effects of generated reactance and its undesirable outcomes. Research limitations/implications: Psychological reactance theory offers a novel perspective for conceptually approaching the likely responses of consumers towards “buy local” campaigns and the empirical findings support the use of the theory in this context. Practical implications: Policymakers seeking to encourage consumers to support the local economy during times of an economic crisis need to be aware that “buy local” campaigns may, against their intended communication goals, result in non-compliance as well as consumer responses in the opposite direction. Thus, the reactance-generating potential of such campaigns needs to be explicitly considered at the planning/implementation stage. Originality/value: The findings confirm the relevance of reactance theory as a conceptual lens for studying the effects of “buy local” campaigns and have important implications for domestic/foreign firms as well as for policy makers seeking to encourage consumers to support the local economy during times of an economic crisis.

Department of Marketing and International Business
External organisation(s)
Università degli Studi „Guglielmo Marconi“
International Marketing Review
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
502019 Marketing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Business and International Management, Marketing
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